• House Appro panel OKs extended validity of calamity, quick response fund

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    The House Appropriations panel has extended the validity of the calamity fund, quick response fund, savings, among other unobligated allotments and unreleased appropriations under the 2013 budget for another year to address the natural and man made disasters that hit the country.

    This developed after the House Appropriations panel approved Joint Resolution 7 which extends the validity of the calamity fund, quick response fund, as well as unobligated allotment and unreleased appropriations on maintenance and operating expenses and capital outlay provided under the P2.006 trillion 2013 budget to address the catastrophes brought about by the typhoons Labuyo, Odette, Pablo, Sendong, Santi, Vinta and Yolanda, the Zamboanga siege staged by the Moro National Liberation Front faction led by Nur Misuari and the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that hit Cebu and Bohol.

    Undersecretary Luz Cantor of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has underscored the need of such move, considering that the balance of the calamity fund is only pegged at P1.8 billion as of November 15.

    “Prior to the calamities, the respective Quick Response Fund (QRF) of several agencies was already augmented, sourced from the calamity fund, because of the said agencies’ full utilization of their respective QRF allotment. With P1.8 billion remaining in the calamity fund, we will be hard pressed to augment the QRF of the agencies to respond to the calamities,” Cantor told the House Appropriations panel.

    The agencies with QRF allocations include: Department of Agriculture (P1 billion), Department of Education (P1.3 billion), Department of National Defense (P371 million), Office of Civil Defense (P692 million), Department of Public Works and Highways (P5 billion) and Department of Social Welfare and Development (P5.5 billion).

    Of the P2.006 trillion budget for 2013, only P133.16 billion are left as of October 31. Of this amount, P98 billion are under the Special Purpose Fund which is a discretionary fund of the President.

    “We need to extend help to the agencies as a result of Super Typhoon Yolanda,” Cantor added.

    The House needed to extend the validity of the said budget provisions because the 2013 national budget is only valid for one year. This means that any untapped allocation under 2013 budget will automatically go back to the National Treasury by January 1, 2014.

    Assistant Secretary Janet Abuel also of the DBM explained that the DBM decided to reduce the validity of the General Appropriations Act or the national budget to one year in 2013 from two-year validity for purposes of efficiency.

    “In the past, we have encountered agencies which were not able to disburse or utilize their fund fully because of issue of absorptive capacity. We made the validity to one year [in 2013]to enable the agencies to work faster in obligating and disbursing their funds for the particular year for greater efficiency,” Abuel added. LLANESCA T. PANTI

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